Saturday, May 10, 2008

Living off the Air

Aeroponics—cultivating plants without soil or water—started to take off in 1983 when Rick Stonerof Agrillouse, a company in Berthoud, Colorado, patented a water-conserving, pesticide-free way to grow crops. NASA chipped in funding for application to potential future space colonies. The colonies are still beyond the horizon, but commercial production of air-grown veggies is becoming a reality. Optometrist La, Forrest of Frederick, Colorado, has expanded his aeroponic greenhouse to about 150 square meters, which may make him the world's largest aeroponicfarmer. His company, Crow Anywhere Air-Foods, grows tiny seedlings of mesclun and other greensfor restaurants; misting their roots with a nitrogen and calcium rich spray every 20 minutes. Forrest's equipment involves several thousand nozzles, pipes, and other parts. But he says he is working on a simpler, cheaper 500-part system to sell to like-minded growers.

This is the first I've seen someone else trying to make a go of it, says (Award Harwood, who patented an aeroponic system with a cloth conveyer belt but couldn't make it pay. As far as the U.S. growers know, the technique hasn't caught on anywhere else in the world. But Stoner sees a big potential: The technology can be set up anywhere, including Iceland or Antarctica, he says.

*.* Source of Information : 4th April 2008 Science

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